The Russian Orthodox Transfiguration Parish in Brooklyn NY commemorated its 106th celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ on 6-7 January 2014. Bishop Michael celebrated the feast-day with the parish. Just as long ago, people gathered at church on Christmas Eve for the evening service: Great Compline and Matins. The next day, His Grace came to the cathedral for a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on the feast-day according to the “old calendar.”
Archpriest Wiaczeslaw Krawczuk (parish rector, Dean of the New York City Deanery) assisted His Grace during the services. The Great Compline began at 6pm and many people came for the service. During the Litiya, His Grace anointed over 150 participants with blessed oil. Choirmaster Elena Kochelova directed the Church Choir during the service. After the service, 80 people gathered for a traditional “Holy Night Supper,” a local tradition started at the parish in 1980 by the Sisterhood of Myrrh-bearing Women. The first event was suggested by then-rector Father Igor Tkachuk so that parishioners who were single or living alone could share the meaning of the Supper before Nativity. No one should have to spend the eve of the Nativity alone! The Nativity Supper is found across all Christian traditions in Europe. In accordance with this custom the Supper has 12 fasting dishes and everyone must try each course. The Nativity Supper concluded after 10pm and the parishioners returned home for the evening.
The next day, on the day of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, Bishop Michael came to the cathedral at 9:30am. He was greeted with bread and salt, an ancient practice of “welcome,” at the entrance of the church by representatives of the Parish Council. Next, children presented His Grace with flowers. Once inside the church, he was welcomed by Father Wiaczeslaw. Following the reading of the Hours and the vesting of the Bishop, the festal Divine Liturgy began at 10am. Serving along with His Grace and Father Wiaczeslaw Krawczuk were Father Igor Yakunin and Protodeacon Paul Sokol. Many Choir members sang beautifully under the direction of Elena Kochelova.
The Epistle was read in English by Subdeacon Peter Andryuk and in Slavonic by Reader Igor Shafranov. Protodeacon Paul Sokol read the Gospel in both languages, as well. After the Gospel reading, His Grace gave a sermon in which he encouraged parishioners to think about the meaning of the Nativity; how it influences their daily lives and their service to the Church. A great number of people attended the service, including many children, and the entire Church was filled.
“At the end of the service the Choir performed a short concert of Christmas carols in English and Slavonic,” said Barbara Krawczuk, “which everyone enjoyed very much. Father Wiaczeslaw invited everyone to the Church Hall for a Christmas lunch. The parishioners spent several hours together celebrating the holiday, singing carols, and enjoying excellent food. Everyone wished each other health and happiness for the New Year.” Father Wiaczeslaw thanked His Grace, Bishop Michael, and all the participants for their prayers and involvement in the Nativity celebration.